Midnight Oil

[Powderworks] NMOC: Sustainable Living

Janice Coleman jec_coleman@hotmail.com
Mon, 30 Jun 2003 23:17:58 -0400

Good words and an interesting question I have wrestled with myself.  I am 
very much an environmentalist.  I am a vegetarian and raising my daughter 
that way as well.  I work in an industry that has, in the past, been 
horrible to the environment.  I am an interior designer for commercial 
interiors.  However, I try to make the best of where I am and how I can 
improve the environment from the situation/job, etc I am in.  For instance, 
I started recycling programs in the last job I had and the current one.  I 
have encouraged people to use both sides of the paper.  It's nice to see so 
many people participating.
I also am involved in the LEEDs certification program which stands for 
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.  This is a rating system for 
people who want their buildings to be green or sustainable.  What makes me 
very happy is this has really taken off.  Tons of architects and designers 
are flocking to the classes to get accredited in order to work on green 
projects (many clients are calling for it).
I also recently purchased a hybrid car.  I don't buy beauty products tested 
on animals.  I do however commute 45 minutes to work each day, live in the 
suburbs, and don't always buy organic food.  You just have to make the best 
of your situation, teach others in the process, and steer your situation as 
best you can towards environmentalism.

>From: Kate Parker Adams <kate@dnki.net>
>To: James Warren <jimcwarren@earthlink.net>
>CC: <powderworks@cs.colorado.edu>
>Subject: [Powderworks] NMOC: Sustainable Living
>Date: Sat, 28 Jun 2003 17:22:05 -0400
>At 11:27 AM 6/28/03 -0700, James Warren wrote:
>>Just bring the discussion down to the more earthy level:  how do I as an 
>>environmentalist feel about  the contradictions inherent in working in a 
>>world whose institutions demand that I "consume, embellish, discard, and 
>I think you have to start with the old "things I can't change, things I can 
>change, wisdom to understand the difference" saw.  If you realize that you 
>are not any more at fault for the state of the world than the next person 
>(provided the "next person" isn't Dick Cheney ...), then the either 
>paralyzing or sanctimonious notions of eco-perfection drop by the wayside.
>Once you let yourself off the hook on a personal level, then some real work 
>can get done.  While you can't change what you inherited, you can change 
>where you go from there.  Individuals didn't screw up the planet, societies 
>have and that is the level at which you must think in order to improve 
>sustainable practices. I used to have discussions with my radical niece 
>about how you might ultimately save a lot more animals and damage much less 
>of the environment by convincing a lot of mainstream folks to eat less meat 
>than you will in creating a handful of strict vegans.
>On the individual level, continuous improvement is a much more appropriate 
>goal than purity.  Organizing or participating in local initiatives spreads 
>the concepts you play with.  You can walk or bike the kids to school, but 
>it is much better for the community to work to make it easier for all kids 
>to get to school without cars being involved - and raise awareness of the 
>problems that car drop-offs cause (bad school air quality, congestion, 
>accidents, etc.).  You can tear up a dying, chemical and water dependent 
>lawn and put in a garden matched to your climate.  Appalled neighbors will 
>make the paradigm shift and start asking about the flowers when water bans 
>and droughts kill their monoscapes or they have to mow on a hot day and you 
>are sipping lemonade in an untended garden run riot.  Make it clear that it 
>is possible to have the things you value, but it is not necessary to do 
>them in thoughless or conventional ways that cause a great deal of damage 
>to the air and earth and water that sustain us.  Demonstrate and experiment 
>on your own turf, hold fast when the Joneses think you are nuts, and then 
>share the word - and the bounty.
>I'm sure there are many other ways to make peace with yourself and the 
>planet within the web of an instant-gratification and personal-control 
>society.  Trying to take control and insisting on instant gratification is 
>not one of them.  Forgiving yourself for not running or controlling the 
>world, understanding that you really can't anyway, and then getting on with 
>what you can do to push the workings of this chaos in positive directions 
>is an important first step.
>Back to harvest some peapods from that organic garden ... and share them 
>with the neighbors,
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